The 31st Ukraine Independence Day has come and gone. As the nation anticipated a cataclysmic attack from Russia to mark the occasion, Ukraine held its breath.
While the war ensued, innocent lives were indeed lost and the scale of destruction expected for that special day – gratefully – did not come to pass. However, the citizens of this fragile nation are still in desperate need of our help.
I traveled to Ukraine in early June to help deliver scarce medical supplies desperately needed to save the lives of civilians trapped in the Russian crosshairs. I met leaders from across the country to determine their ongoing needs and spent dinner with 65 incoming Rotarian Club presidents from throughout Ukraine to prepare for their upcoming year. While there, discussion on their perseverance and determination to maintain their country’s freedom and their visions for a renewed and rebuilt Ukrainian future was inevitable.
I spent days visiting packed refugee centers, distributing medical supplies and passing out food to mothers clinging onto their newborn babies, void of any other worldly possessions, and all the while, air raid sirens filled the air. I’m a father to 7 daughters – as I witnessed the fear and desperation of these young mothers, I could only think about what more I could do for them.
I returned to Atlanta with an accelerated enthusiasm to aid the Ukrainians. In many ways, my humanitarian journey for Ukraine began after my return. I have continued to rally all those who will listen to assist in the effort. We formed HelpingUkraine.us as a centralized clearinghouse for our efforts, sharing the images and stories from those I met while embedded in the conflict, and I’ve begun somewhat of a speaking – really, pleading – tour with Atlanta-area groups to raise additional support and awareness.
We have solicited help from many, and many have given generously. Even before I got involved, Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC), a Tucker-based disaster relief organization and their president, Chris Brand, had dedicated countless hours sending medical supplies while I was there.
As we approached August 24th, we created a special day online with documented conversations with former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, and the General Secretary and CEO of Rotary International, John Hewko, who just so happened to be present in the Ukrainian capital when the nation celebrated its first Independence Day in 1991. They offered their thoughts regarding the war and their hope for the future. Those discussions as well as others have been captured in a documentary-style vignette for all to view on HelpingUkraine.us. Please watch it – you won’t be disappointed.
As we move into the next phase of helping Ukraine, I feel it is part of the mission of our organization to help connect people. What has been so touching thus far are the relationships that have been developed here in Atlanta with the Ukrainian communities and individuals I encountered abroad. At a time when the U.S. government is sending money to the country for military support, it is the way one individual in Ukraine can touch the heart of someone here in the United States that motivates us to help.
Isn’t it remarkable that we can feel a kinship with someone on the other side of the world in their time of despair? Isn’t it incredible that we can feel good about supporting the efforts to send more medical supplies that are so greatly needed as injuries from war continue to fill their hospitals?
Isn’t it the right thing to do to keep our support for Ukraine moving forward as the conditions change and the needs continue?
I believe so and hope that our movement will continue to attract organizations and people who want to be a part of this journey.
In the few short weeks since HelpingUkraine.us launched, we have built a foundation of compassion and contribution to assist the Ukrainians in their darkest hour. And while media coverage may turn its lenses to newer breaking news, let us not forget the people of Ukraine. I know that I never will. Please help us.
Emory Morsberger is the founder of HelpingUkraine.us and current president of the Tucker Summit CID.